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Taking the lead Closes Closes

Retailers gain strategic advantage when they are early to adopt innovative approaches

RETAILERS THAT COMBINE scale with market-leading and joined-up approaches to deliver connected retail stand out in the Strategy & Innovation Performance Dimension. Researchers measured traders’ performance through the services that they offer that are not yet mainstream, or that make compelling sense in a multichannel business. These are found in areas from logistics and customer services to localisation for international audiences.

What the Top500 do Top500 retailers sell in between two and three markets throughout the European Economic Area, plus Switzerland. They do so in between two and three languages, while accepting between three and four currencies. Each localises communication channels, such as blogs, email, phone and social media, to between two and three different countries and languages.

Traders offer shoppers a choice of between two and three delivery options. The most widely offered premium option is next-day delivery (19%), while nominated day (6%) and time (4%), same-day (2%), Saturday (10%) and Sunday (4%) deliveries are currently less widely available.

Most offer some form of multichannel delivery service, with 64% enabling shoppers to pick up online orders in the store and 43% enabling shoppers to return their online orders to the store. Returns are processed in an average of 12 days.

Most also offer a mobile app, 75% having an Android app, with 80% supporting iOS. When it comes to visual merchandising, retailers illustrate products with an average of between three and four images, while 52% enable website visitors to save products to a wishlist.

How the leaders perform

Large retailers that combine operational excellence with a wide international reach stand out in this Performance Dimension. Health and beauty retailer Boots stands out for its flexible delivery promise that includes nominated-day and Saturday delivery, which it combines with enabling shoppers to buy in three EEA languages. Its English-language website will deliver throughout the entire single market.

UK department store group House of Fraser offers same-day, nominated-day and nominated-time delivery. Swedish homewares company IKEA performs strongly across Europe, enabling customers to shop in 28 languages, including Catalan, Basque and Spanish.

French fashion retailer La Redoute supports 10 EEA languages and five currencies, while shoppers at Swedish fashion giant H&M can choose between 17 languages. UK computer specialist PC World [IRDX RPCW] has a particularly strong delivery offer, with same-day and nominated-time delivery services both available. Spanish fashion brand Zara enables shoppers to pay in 10 currencies and read its website in 20 languages, while Zalando supports seven currencies and 11 languages.

How the markets vary

While the average European retailer may support between two and three markets and languages, at the level of the individual markets, average retailers still tend to have a purely domestic outlook, supporting just one market in one language. Consumers in countries where more than one language is spoken tend to reflect that choice on their website. For that reason, Belgian consumers are most likely to have the choice of communicating in more than one language, followed by Switzerland. Retailers trading in both countries offer, on average, between one and two language options.

It is notable that Top500 retailers operating in the UK are most likely to offer next-day, same-day, nominated-day and nominatedtime delivery, even though the majority do not offer these options. UK-based and France-based shoppers enjoy the widest choice of delivery options on average, at between two and three, while those in Poland, Greece, Spain and Germany have an average of two options. Collection is most widely found in the UK, where 67% of retailers listed in the IREU Top500 offer the multichannel service. Retailers trading in Germany display more images per product than the European average, at between four and five. Almost two-thirds (63%) of retailers trading in Italy enable shoppers to save products to a wishlist.

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